Traffic at DIA is recovering, but like everything else in the world, there are changes due to COVID-19.
DENVER – For a year, traffic at Denver International Airport was down 95%. There were 1,000 fewer flights per day and unused aircraft landed on the empty runways.
It makes sense: April 2020 was the height of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a vast majority of the country was in some kind of home stay.
A lot has changed in the last year. COVID-19 has changed the world in countless ways. At this point it is basically a habit to wear masks and stay half a meter away from others.
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However, as more people get vaccinated and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have the opportunity to travel, the airport is starting to look more like 2019.
Case in point? This comparison of photos from a year ago to today, where people are gathering again at the security lines that were empty in April 2020.
In the past few months, DIA spokeswoman Emily Williams said the airport had set up hand disinfection stations in certain high-traffic areas and disinfected wipe dispensers near gates.
DIA is now also offering passengers the ability to deliver groceries so they don’t have to congregate outside of shops and restaurants. A number of people also remind travelers to keep their distance throughout the airport.
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Williams suggested using Verifly, a DIA program, for their services in October 2020. The program allows people to make reservations to get through security trains and trains with limited capacity at certain times to avoid large crowds. According to the DIA website, the program is only available until April 30th.
“If we get back to pre-pandemic levels, releasing the Verifly car will allow people to spread better in all cars,” Williams said.
Williams said DIA is encouraging people to wait two to three minutes for the next train when the current car is full and go to the middle cars, which are usually less crowded.
“Just like the things we learned during the pandemic, there is now a certain level of personal responsibility,” Williams said. “Now that people are comfortable traveling, we want them to remember all of the things they have practiced over the past year.”
Williams said DIA recovered from the pandemic “incredibly quickly”. Last week, passenger traffic was down 20% from 2019, while that figure is around 40% nationally.
The airport offers free vaccines to all employees, but they are not required.
“The airport never stopped working, it’s an essential park in the national airspace program, and we had people who worked during the pandemic to make sure that people who had to fly could do so safely,” she said. “We’re seeing people starting to travel again and a lot of people haven’t been at the airport in over a year so there are still some COVID changes going on.”
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